If a team holds their opponents to 10 points below their scoring average they are usually going to be in a good position to win. Of course, no amount of good defense is going to matter if that same team can’t even break 40 points in a game.
Saturday night the UCSB men’s basketball team traveled to Stockton to take on Pacific and suffered a 58-36 smack-down at the hands of the Tigers. Despite holding UOP to just 39.3 percent shooting in the game, the ailing Gauchos (8-11, 2-4 Big West) imploded on the offensive end, making only 12 total shots on the night.
“It’s been an ongoing trend with us,” Head Coach Bob Williams said. “On the season we have not shot the ball well. We are not a good shooting team. We are coming off a year where we were one of the best shooting teams in the country. This year we have not been able to consistently shoot the ball at high level.
“We are susceptible, as we showed, two nights when the damn ball won’t go in the whole.”
The Tigers came out in the ESPN U-televised game running a zone and UCSB never seemed to get a rhythm going. Pacific fully neutralized the Gauchos’ inside game, and Santa Barbara only managed to score 12 points in the paint.
“They’re doubling [senior forward] Chris [Devine] so we have got to step up and make plays,” junior guard James Powell said. “We all have got to shoot better on the outside.”
With the UCSB offense mostly relegated to the perimeter, the squad needed to sink long shots to win. Unfortunately for the Gauchos, they couldn’t find the net down the stretch. Despite allowing the Tigers 32 shots and only taking 19 of their own in the first half, Santa Barbara held Pacific to just 25 percent shooting in the first period. While UCSB was far from stellar on the offensive end as well, their solid defense took them into halftime only down 23-20.
“I think we did okay [defensively],” Powell said. “I don’t think our defense was the problem.”
The second 20 minutes of games have been rough on this year’s Santa Barbara squad, and the story was more than the same Saturday night. Pacific bounced out the locker room and immediately burst out with big shots. The Tigers dissected the Gaucho defense, and shot at a blistering 58.3 percent pace in the period. Meanwhile, UCSB couldn’t find the net in the least, shooting just 21.7 percent in the half, including an apocalyptic 1-for-15 pace from behind the arc.
“Sooner or later in all games to be competitive you’ve got to hit shots,” Williams said. “We didn’t do that, and they did. There are a couple other teams that tried the zone [against us] and we blew them up, but this was a game where we couldn’t get the ball going whatsoever. Nobody could get a hot hand. Nobody could even get a lukewarm hand.”
Williams said that Pacific finally started to play ball in the second half, while his squad simply didn’t.
‘They got into a rhythm, we lost control of the game,” Williams said. “They got momentum going and we couldn’t respond.”
With four losses under their belts, Santa Barbara needs a solid weekend to get back to .500 and start battling in the Big West again. Williams said that it’s apparent that the team is in a slump, and they are just going to have to work harder to pull themselves out of it.
“How do you survive?” Williams said. “That’s the million dollar question. We just think that you go back and work. We’ve been tinkering with things, we’re going to adjust the starting lineup, adjust our shooting workouts to get our guards in with extra practices in the morning. We’re going to do everything we can. We think you have to work your way through this.”